» 07/23/2010, 00.00
Woman freed after spending 14 years in prison without trial for “blasphemy”
Zaibul Nisa had been arrested on vague blasphemy charges. The judge who released her is dismayed by her long and unjust confinement. Her lawyer complains that she “was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone.”
Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The High Court in Lahore has ordered the release Zaibul Nisa, a 60-year-old woman who spent the past 14 years in the prison section of a mental asylum for blasphemy, on allegations of desecrating the Qur‘an. Back in 1996, police arrested her and then locked her up without a shred of evidence.
Expressing his “dismay” over her long and unjust confinement, the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, "ordered the release of Zaibul Nisa after no evidence was found against her," a court official said.
Nisa was arrested in the town of Rawat, near the capital Islamabad, after a local resident filed a complaint at a police station that someone had desecrated the Koran, defence lawyer Aftab Ahmad Bajwa said.
Nisa's name was not even mentioned in the police complaint, Bajwa explained, and “Nobody, not even her relatives, pursued the case. She was sent to jail and then forgotten by everyone”.
Police arrested her on the basis of the infamous blasphemy law, namely article 295, sections B and C, of the Pakistan Penal Code, which respectively impose life in prison on anyone defiling the Qur‘an and the death penalty on anyone defaming Prophet Mohammed.
However, very often blasphemy charges are falsely laid or motivated by sordid reasons, generating scandals and stirring angry people to seek mob justice.
For example, two Christian brothers (one a Protestant clergyman) accused of writing a blasphemous pamphlet critical of the Prophet Mohammed were shot dead last Monday outside a court that was going to acquit them.
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